The Supreme Court will start hearing a petition asking the court to order the Centre not to impose service tax on Hajis who do Haj via Haj Group Operators (HGO) and also to exclude them from the service tax class because Haj is a religious ritual.
The case will be heard by a three-judge bench consisting of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna through virtual mode.
The petitioner had also submitted this writ petition desiring, that the imposition of a service tax on devotees (Hajis) who travel to Saudi Arabia for ritual pilgrimages such as Haj and Umrah is inconsistent with the constitution and infringes on the Hajis’ fundamental rights as codified in Articles 14, 19, 21 and 25 of the Constitution.
According to the plaintiff, approximately 70% of Hajis that go for Haj via the Haj Committee of India don’t really pay service tax because the govt has exempted Hajis that go through the Haj Committee of India from paying service tax, whereas Hajis who have been through HGOs are asked to pay service tax.
This conduct is clearly unfair and discriminating. The applicant filed a Writ Petition in this Hon’ble Court against the imposition of service tax on the Hajis on such basis.
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